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Alaska is the northern most U.S. state and is in the northwest extremity of North America. One third of the state is in the Arctic Circle. It is a state known for its spectacular wildlife, grizzly bear sightings, gold rush history, Northern Lights, and legendary bush pilots. Visit Alaska with us and discover everything this spectacular state has to offer!
Alaska has beautiful character and an exquisitely unique natural vitality.
WHY WE LOVE
Visit Alaska and you will discover that it is a state that resembles a country, with its massive size and impressive natural features. Although it does not have any definitive borders Alaska is divided by six accepted regions which include; South Central, Southeast, Interior, Southwest, North Slope, and the Aleutian Islands.
The South-Central region is the most populated and most popular, it is home to the city of Anchorage but also contains many rural areas. This area is perfect for social activities that include getting to know locals and visiting the town watering hole.
The Southeast is very impressive.
In this region you will find the Alexander archipelago as well as the beloved Tongass National Forest. This area is wild, as wild as it gets and perfect for authentic experiences with Nature.
Alaska has many different terrains and they are all equally magnificent. The Interior, for example, is desolate, stunning, and perfect for outdoor activities that include fat biking, hiking, or simply wandering. Water lovers will be awed by the Southwest region for it is home to one of the largest river deltas in the world. Imagine, watching a bear fish for salmon…well, in this area it is a common occurrence.
The North Slope is home to many coloured villages that house many of the local people. Culture is also an important part of Alaskan life.
Apart from the magnificent wildlife and mountains, it is important to note that volcanoes are also abundant in Alaska.
Alaska has more than 300 small volcanic islands that connect as if they were links of a chain. This ‘chain’ is known as the Aleutian Islands.
People from all over visit Alaska to see everything it has to offer from glaciers, to a forest, to magnificent mountains. It is a state that epitomizes wild beauty. Its people are equally as lovely. Alaskan culture values nature and her elements, a perfect example of this can be seen during the Alaskan Winter festivals. One of our favourites is the Ice Carving Festivals in Fair Banks which feature spectacular ice carvings depicting different animals and folkloric characters. Don’t miss out, visit Alaska and see it all for yourself.
“To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.” - John Muir
Did you know…?
- Alaska’s official state sport is Dog Mushing.
- In 1867, Alaska was purchased from Russia for about 2 cents an acre. The state’s total cost was about US$7.2 million... what a deal!
- Alaska´s flag was designed in 1927 by a then 13 years old teen named Benny Benson.
- Alaska has a written law that states that it is illegal to give a moose some beer.
- Seventeen of the United States´ twenty highest peaks are in Alaska.
- Alaska has more coastline than all other 49 U.S states combined.
- Roadkill is served to the public. Any moose, caribou, or bear killed by car is considered property of the state and is therefore reported. In most cases the animal carcasses are butchered and distributed to charity organizations.
- Tongass, Americans largest national forest, is also located in Alaska.
- Alaska's name is based on the Eskimo word ‘Alakshak’ which translates to ‘great lands’ or ‘peninsula’.
- Alaska has over 3,000 rivers and 3 million lakes!
- The state gives its residents a pay out, just for living there!
ALASKA Travel Guide
When to go
Most people visit Alaska during the middle of May towards the middle of September, this is when temperatures normally range from mid 50s °F (10 °C) to initial 70s °F (21 °C). This is also the time in which the sun stays out in certain places above the Arctic Circle for a full 24 hours.
If your interests include hiking all over we suggest you try to go later in the season, shoot for August. This is when the ground is drier and more solid and the pests are at bay. Bugs tend to take over during the early summer months.
While we know many of you might want to visit Alaska when it’s warmer we ask you don’t completely discount the winter season. Keep in mind that this is the best time to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) as well as experience some of Alaska’s famous winter festivals, like the Yukon Quest sled dog race which departs in Fairbanks (Alaska) and ends in Whitehorse (Yukon, Canada).
How to get there/around
Most humans visiting Alaska do so by cruise. This obviously is not our preferred method of travel because it is rigid and does not allow for wild and or authentic adventure, plus all cruise lines predominantly focus on the Inside Passage, which can be full of tourist.
Other methods of transportation to Alaska include travelling by charter boat, ferry, and plane. Charter boats are a fantastic option if you manage to pull together a group of adventurous friends to divide the cost. You should really consider this option because all boats come with a cook and captain and they allow for itinerary flexibility as well as intimacy.
The ferry system is a third by water option that could be helpful as well. The Blue Canoes, aka Alaska Marine Highway ferry system, is a year-round serve that connects people from various communities and states to Alaska. The system uses 11 ships and manages to transport hundreds of people a year. And of course, there’s the plane, the most commonly used method of transportation to any other country. This might be your only option depending on where you want to go. There are over 20 sought after destinations that can be flown to quite easily although if you’d like to access remote areas that require lake or ice landing we suggest you consider chartering a small float-plane…it may be the only way to get to your final destination.
Once you’re in Alaska you have options as well like seeing the state by train. Although somewhat limited as to where you can go/what areas you get access too, traveling by train is by far one of the most incredible ways to see the state. The comfort of the train allows you to sit back and simply take in all the sites and wildlife. There’s always driving of course. This option is the most flexible but it could also be the most time consuming as there is A LOT of ground to cover between destinations, cities, parks, etc. Not to mention, gas isn’t cheap. On the flip-side, Anchorage and Fairbanks have awesome road systems, and if you’re visiting in the summer you can cover the whole state via the Alaska Highway.
What to see & do
Anchorage is a must-see city with exceptional natural wonders, must like all of Alaska. It is the state’s most populated city and has the distinct quality of having both a metropolitan appeal as well as wildlife. Anchorage is home to 1,500 moose, breathtaking national parks, and has at least 60 glaciers around. Kodiak is another place worth visiting, it is not only the largest island in Alaska but the second largest in all the United States whose motto is “Alaska’s Emerald Isle”. The island is also home to a marvellous fishing town that is surrounded by beautiful rugged wilderness. Lastly, we suggest you visit the largest national park in the United States, the Tongass National Forest. This forest is in Southeast Alaska and contains over 17 million acres (69,000 km2) of pure untouched nature. The forest is a perfect place to go hiking, trekking, swimming, and birdwatching. The park’s beauty is unsurpassable, don’t miss it!
What to pack
If you’re planning to visit Alaska during the winter please make sure to be properly prepared. The following list is for anyone travelling to Alaska’s inside passage, interior, or south side in the winter. If you plan on visiting the North than this clothing applies all year round. Make sure to pack: short sleeved shirt, shorts, long sleeved shirt, jeans/slacks, walking shoes, waterproof boots, windbreaker and/or jacket, wool sweater or fibrefill vest, warm hat and gloves, thick wool socks, long underwear, and a winter coat.
A winter coat is not needed in the interior sections of Alaska during the fall, spring, and or summer. Wool clothing is also unnecessary during the summer.
Some travel insights from our experts about ALASKA
- Always read up on road conditions, especially if you’re driving during your stay. The Alaska Department of Transportation website will be your bible.
- Also, if driving, make sure to have some basic repair items on hand such as a spare tire, and various wrenches and fluids. Chances are you’ll be driving through undeveloped land with little resources available to you. Ah, and don’t forget your GPS and a CD or Aux Cord. Changes are you will also find yourself without a radio signal.
- If you see a bunch of cars pulled over make sure you also pull over and grab your camera…there is a high probability that the people are gawking at a cool animal that you will probably want to see as well.
- Oh, a last driving in Alaska tip…NEVER LEAVE FOOD IN YOUR CAR!
Do: Carry binoculars. Alaska is a place full of animals are spectacular sights, make sure you don’t miss out.
Do: Make noise if you find yourself travelling alone in the wilderness. This is ward off dangerous animals like bears.
Do: Use proper fishing etiquette. Alaskans take fishing very seriously, do not get too close to other people fishing or throw your line out too far.
Do: See more than just Anchorage. Yes, Alaska’s largest city is a must-visit for many travellers but we strongly suggest you travel at least an hour out of the city limits to get a true Alaskan experience. This state has so much to offer it would be a shame to limit your understanding of Alaska to just one city.
Do: Engage in a blanket toss. Blanket tossing is an activity that is usually seen during community gatherings and festivals. This activity begins with a person standing on a blanket which is held by dozens of people who then toss said person in the air as if the blanket were a trampoline.
Don’t: Overbook yourself. It is easy to get caught up in excitement but make sure you give yourself ample time to enjoy the sites and make sure to leave time for visiting the city as well.
Don’t: Feed any wild animals.
Don’t: Ask Alaskans if they know Sarah Palin…just, don’t.
Don’t: Drive too slow. There are signs along the road that tell you to ‘pull over if you have more than 5 cars lined up behind you’ for a reason. Slow drivers cause other drivers to try to pass them, this can be deadly. If you’re uncomfortable with going at the accepted velocity we suggest you pull over and let those behind you go before you continue on with your tortoise-like pace.
Don’t: Treat Alaska as if it were a theme park. Don’t expect there to be a wildlife show time. The people cannot control what the animals do. If you had your heart set on seeing an animal that has yet to show its face and or tail we suggest you continue to wait it out and practice patience. Nature has no rehearsals and or event scheduling.
Cuisine delights (3 best dishes)
Alaska is home to many wild land animals, one of the most popular is the moose. Moose is considered typical game in Alaska and is hunted every year for food during the fall and winter. Moose meat can be readily found throughout Alaska but more impressive is the Alaskan usage of the animal’s organs. Moose heart is a beloved local dish. It can be both fried and or stuffed with breadcrumbs, some veg, and seasonings.
Reindeer (hot) dogs are famous in Alaska and are arguably the state’s most famous street food. Reindeer sausage reigns supreme in Alaska, next time you’re there we suggest you ask for a ‘sled dog’. You will be given a freshly baked reindeer sausage wrapped in sourdough.
If you’re looking to taste something truly special we suggest you set out to find some Akutaq, also known as “Eskimo Ice Cream”. This ice cream is different to the ones we consume in the West. Firstly, it is made by the indigenous people of the region and secondly it is made from fat, usually reindeer, and freshly fallen snow! This concoction also contains wild Alaskan berries, and sometimes ground fish…talk about an out of this world treat!
CHATTING CORNER – SURVIVAL GUIDE
Alaska is part of the United States; therefore, it is an English-speaking state. So, here are some words that are specific to the jargon used in Alaska, some of which you might find useful along your travels.
- Nanook (naa-NOOK) – Polar Bear
- Outside – Alaskans usually refer to region and or person outside of Alaska as ‘outside’ or ‘outsiders’.
- Mukluk(s) (MUCK-lucks) – Fur boots
- Termination Dust - The first visible snowfall on the mountains in fall.
- Great Land - Nickname for Alaska.
- Fish Stories – Exaggerated, implausible, and or boastful stories commonly told by fisherman.
- Chinook - A warm, moist wind that blows through in winter.
- Cheechako - A newbie (usually when referring to outdoor activities or being in the Wilderness) or newcomer to the country.
- Sourdough – A person who is comfortable and well-versed in the ways of the wilderness.